Progressive Writers Bloc

For Whom the Bell Tolls

“Uncle Bill” Warner

I have just finished watching, via Netflix, the Ken Burns PBS series called "The Dust Bowl." It was a very emotional experience, and when I started checking out related stuff it got scarier and scarier.

This is not going to be a rant replete with tons of statistics (you can check all that out on the Internet) but merely an appeal to common sense to evaluate where the human race seems to be headed.

I find it very sad to see newborn and young children. They are usually playing, smiling, enjoying life in the playgrounds, eating their French fries, oblivious as to what lies ahead.

Their parents have not done them any favors bringing them into the world. Perhaps I am just too cynical? The Earth's resources are not infinite, despite what some corporate propaganda would have us believe. They will get harder to obtain, cause more pollution in the getting, and will cause more wars, poverty, and health problems.

The human race has been involved with control of resources for a very long time for benefit of the "chosen, superior people" . Remember Japan's drive to take the coal, oil and rubber in their part of the world for their industrialization and growing population back in the 30s? Remember Hitler's quest for "Lebensraum"? Look at every war in the past, and usually taking from some "subhuman peoples" their land, labor, or resources . This is called colonialism or imperialism.

Now consider the exponential rise in the world's population. Not only is there a need for more food and water, but for the "comforts of life" like cars, trips on jet planes, cellular phones, etc. We have for long known that ancient resources can't be replaced, yet we use them with reckless abandon, and with little consideration for those who do not benefit from them. "How did our oil get under your sand?".

The Dust Bowl program made it abundantly clear that there were not only too may demands being put on the huge northern and southern Great Plains by intensive farming in an area where long periods of drought made it a disaster area . One of the solutions was to drill for the water to irrigate crops, which sounds like a great idea until you remember that you are drilling into an underground "lake" (aquifer) which contains fossil water that cannot be replaced by rainfall. Sooner or later there will be another dust bowl, reducing not only the food we can grow there, but the fuel we expect to burn in our vehicles that comes from the corn grown there. Every year the Ogallala aquifer goes down and down. Egypt, the Sudan, Jordan, etc. are all using fossil water as well. When it is gone, it is gone.

Oil is not being made anymore. The dinosaurs and ancient vegetation which turned to oil over millions of years are not making any more. When it is gone, it is gone. Yet, we are using it up at an incredible rate! What will happen when a billion Chinese all have their own SUVs? Population growth plus diminishing resources is going to make for a diminishing standard of life for every living thing on the planet. We will be forced to compete monetarily or militarily for everything. The price will go up greatly, and a lot if it will be hidden. Ten dollars a gallon for gas is not its real price. How about the billions of dollars spent on the military and the lives lost to attack countries to insure our supplies? How about the cost carried by asthmatic children from our burning of fossil fuels?

We have used up the great oilfields like the Teapot Dome. We have mined out the copper from the huge Bingham pit. We have used up most of the iron ore and coal on which we built our country. Not only does that means that prices will be going up on everything (did you notice how the price of your food went up as the price of diesel No. 2 that the trucks and tractors involved in its production and transportation soared?) The less of something there is, and the more people that need or want it. prices will continue to rise.

Economics 101. These newborn babes will live nowhere near as well as we.

With more of our work being done overseas where they pay almost nothing due to the fact they have so many (too many) people who are willing to work cheap to avoid starving, more and more Americans are thrown out of work. As their populations grow, there will be even more people over there competing for jobs. As our population continues to grow, jobs will be fewer and lower paid. Who will buy stuff made by Wal-Mart factories in China when the people who made the same things here one are out of work? Unemployed people don't buy new cars, new houses, or much decent food .

So, why do I mourn for every child in the word born today? The finite fossil water available to many of them to drink and grow food will be more expensive (and more polluted) as it is used up. Will they be able to afford even drinking water without jobs?

Why do I mourn for every newborn I see? The national debt we have racked up with our wars and stupid economic policies involving a rich class prospering while the have-nots proliferate is going to make the rich richer from the interest on that debt paid to the "haves" from which the money was borrowed comes out of the the pockets of those who have less and less ability to pay, eat, and pay the rent. Cutting taxes for the "haves" usually amounts to less money in the government that can be spent on public education and health programs. This usually comes to a head after a while, as in the French , the Russian, and the Chinese revolutions. These new kids will be in the middle of it.

My sadness when I consider the future of a child today who will have a poor education, poor health, no job, poor nutrition, and homelessness is, I feel somewhat justified. The chickens are coming home to roost at some time soon. Even having machines replacing workers in the fields and factories will eliminate jobs. ATMs, self-service line and gas pumps, check-outs, McJobs, and machines that infuriate you on the telephone when human operators are let go, mean fewer jobs as the population grows. Greed is involved as well...someone is making more money when they fire half the workers and make the remaining one work twice as hard. Some future for a kid today to look forward to. He/she will probably not even be able to afford college, and graduates will find themselves unemployed. Not much of a gift from our generation.

Common sense would seem to dictate than more and more people competing for less and less is a recipe for disaster. Doubtless some folks will resort to crime rather than starve, and with cities cutting their police budgets, there will be fewer criminals getting caught.

I cannot offer and solutions for the problems we have brought on ourselves. I have little faith that they are amenable to solution by the same human race that caused them.

So, smiling child and newborn baby, ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

Contact Information
Website designed by DavidChandler